A help desk, also known as a service desk, is computer support in the form of phone support. When you need quick answers to technical questions, or fast remote remediation of minor problems, it’s nice to have someone standing by waiting to answer your call. Surprisingly few computer support companies offer this service. Many are one-man shops where the person that answers your calls is the same one that handles all your technical needs. If he is out at a job site it’s unlikely he’ll be able to take time to walk you through your latest issue when you call. Rather, he will call you back later.
The larger, more established computer support companies will offer a help desk service. With this service, your calls are answered quickly by someone trained to offer some level of technical support. Rather than leaving a message on your tech guy’s cell phone, or talking to a dispatcher who will route your call to the next available onsite tech, you talk to a person who is trained to resolve many of your issues right there on the phone at the time of your call. Very often, the help desk support person will have remote control access to your computer. They can see the error message you’re seeing and show you how they fix it.
It takes a special type of person to work the help desk. It’s hard to find someone with both technical skills and people skills. Someone who understands technology and is patient with those who aren’t. Someone who speaks your language, and clearly.
Many large computer support companies have outsourced their help desk to off-shore entities. While these people may have all the necessary skills and credentials, often times they are hard to communicate with. This has given a lot of help desk services a bad rap. If you’re looking for a help desk service, make sure you ask the company where their help desk is located. If it’s outside the US you may find it more frustrating than helpful.